As meat prices continue to rise, Americans are struggling to afford protein rich food sources. Meat prices began to rise during the pandemic and do not show a trend of going back down.
The price hikes for proteins have been especially steep. As of January, the cost of beef and veal was 16% higher than it was in the same month one year earlier. Pork prices are up 14.1%, while eggs are up 13.1%, fish and seafood 12.7% and chicken up 10.3%.
Louisiana ranks third in the nation for risk of food insecurity, following the District of Columbia and Georgia. Nearly half of newly food insecure communities are small towns and unincorporated rural areas. This is extremely important to consider when we look at the recent spike in food prices. (Axios, 2022).
In effort to consume the recommended amount of protein, roughly 56g for average sedentary man and 46g for the average sedentary woman, Americans are looking for cheaper sources. Reasonable sources include liver which is a high-protein low-cost option. Like other organ meats, it’s loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Frozen chicken drumsticks are the cheapest cut of chicken with an overall good protein to calorie ratio.
While the cost of eggs has increased, eggs still pack protein dense and reasonable amounts of nutrition with moderate expense. Eggs are a powerhouse and versatile food. Canned fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon are price conscience options and are favorites amongst many families.
Non-meat proteins can be found in many bean options such as black beans and kidney beans. These options also are packed with many rich nutrients to aid in your diet! Beans are great to mix into many of your traditional family meals such as casseroles, rice dishes, and salads!
Research is showing that we are reducing our protein intake as costs continue to rise. We are forced to get creative to maintain this viable nutritional source. Low protein intake can lead to weight gain by way of an increase in grain based foods. Protein is a vital fuel to the body and studies continue to show that they help you to feel fuller throughout the day. In just a week of not eating enough protein, muscles responsible for your posture and movement, are greatly affected, especially if you're 55 or older. And over time, a lack of protein can make you lose muscle mass, which in turn cuts your strength, makes it harder to keep your balance, and slows your metabolism. It can also lead to anemia, when your cells don't get enough oxygen, which makes you tired. (Christine Mikstas, RD, LD, 2020).